Sunday, 4 August 2013

on #twittersilence and feminism.

I've been wanting to write about feminism for a long time, but I hadn't quite found the place or time to start. Well, today is the day. For some reason, there's a story that's sweeping UK news media by storm this week that seems to be nonexistent in American media. Several high-profile female journalists have been repeatedly threatened via twitter, and the threats are absolutely revolting. It's resulted in many women withdrawing from the site today for a 24 hour silence, using the tag #twittersilence. 
I respect the choice of these women to respond to abuse in whatever way feels right to them. And I understand how disturbing and frustrating this situation is. 
But I disagree with the idea of silence. 

I've never liked being told what I can and cannot do. I especially hated it when anyone told me I couldn't do something because I was a girl. 

Exhibit A: my 5th grade school picture. As part of our charming theme photos, all the students were given props: girls had flowers, boys had a hunk of rope. I didn't much care for the idea that I was being forced to hold the flowers. I was in a tomboy phase (notice my boys' cargo shorts?) and didn't see why only the boys got to hold the rope. It wasn't fair that I didn't get a choice.
You'll notice, of course, that there are no flowers in that photo. My ten year-old self crossed her arms and told the photographer, "I don't want to hold the flowers. I want the rope instead."
In my memory, the photographer was intimidated by my steely glare. I silently dared him to challenge me. [insert cowboy showdown sounds here]
In reality, he probably didn't give two hoots about what this weird child in cargo shorts and pigtails wanted. So he handed me the rope, sat me on the block, and snapped the photo. 
I'm sure my mother was delighted when the pictures came. I certainly was.

As anybody who knows me could tell you, I've never been one to keep my mouth shut.
I was not raised to be a meek, silent girl. I have and always will be loud and exuberant. I was taught to think for myself, to read widely, and to never give an inch when I am in the right. I give my opinions freely. The March girls, Anne Shirley, Eowyn, Hermione Granger, and a host of other brilliant, complex girls taught me that I have as much right as anyone to learn and to fight for a world where I am equal. I thank God every day for giving me parents who encouraged me to read, think, and debate. 

And this is why I disagree with silence today. Words have always been my power. I may not be tall or muscular, but I can and will continue to use my voice to fight. I will speak honestly, clearly, and passionately with women and men around the world until our voices are heard. 

I am a woman, but I am a person first. I deserve equal pay for equal work. I deserve to be considered on my merits and not my gender. I deserve to live in a world where women are not attacked or threatened with rape for speaking out against injustice. 
I deserve a world that is better than this.
And I'll talk and talk for it until I'm blue in the face.


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All materials on this blog belong to me, unless stated otherwise. I try to give credit where it is due, but the internet is a vast wasteland of images separated from their creators. If you own something I post that is not attributed to you, please contact me and I will fix it stat. STAT. Like a doctor running down the hallways of the hospital to restart someone's heart. Exactly like that.